Model Cars Posts

Adding 100s of White Metal and other Diecast Rarities

Musings By Joschik
Christian obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.  He wrote recently about why we are in danger of losing more information than ever before and how hobbyDB is working against that trend.


I wanted to write up about two of my heroes that share hobbyDB’s vision about documenting every collectible ever made.

The first is Albert Kopans.  Albert has been collecting model cars since he was 8 years old.  And he very early started to be fascinated with handmade models, one-offs, and other diecast oddities. Over the years he made acquaintances with many makers; most, unfortunately, are no longer making models and held thousands of models in his hands as he switched subjects every few years and sold what was not core anymore.  After a very extensive collection of Ferrari and Lamborghini models he stopped collecting but still trades in models.


Here some of Albert’s earlier models 

And the other one is our very own Champion here on the site, Karl Schnelle (AKA Stroget).  He contacted Albert enquiring about some images he had posted on a diecast forum of models that we did not have here on hobbyDB.  Albert quickly offered 100s of images of rare models and Karl has been busy adding them with so far 270 already live on the site, 130 currently being processed (we help Karl by uploading them through our import tools for large data sets) and uncounted more to come!

Karl in his elements (models and beer)

Here is one of the new entries  –

ABC Brianza Alfa Romeo Dardo Pininfarina 1998 

 

Thanks to the two of you!

7 Generations of Collectible Corvette Concepts (While We Wait for C8 Diecast)

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Chevrolet dropped a new design on the car world last week, the 8th generation Corvette, also known as the C8. It’s the first mid-engined Vette ever, and a darn handsome car. And if the pricing information is accurate, it’s a bargain starting just under $60,000. We’ve never seen anything like it.

No really, we didn’t get much of a preview because there wasn’t a wild concept car designed ahead of time like most previous redesigns. In the past, some of those Corvette concepts would be outrageous, some dead on, but most gave at least a glimpse of the general direction the new design would take. In this case, an almost finished prototype in camouflage suddenly started driving around. It was accurate, but hard to see.

corvette c8We would love to show you small scale versions of it, but… there don’t seem to be any yet. The way this car was developed killed the lead time for diecast companies to create miniatures. So until we get the C8 in small scale, let’s look at some earlier concepts that made it in miniature. While basically every year of Corvette has been represented in diecast, a good number of concept cars have been available as well. Some were definitely more predictive than others…

C1 Corvette (1953-62)

corvette c1 nomad

Fans have asked for a Corvette Shooting brake since the C1 Nomad was shown.

The very first Corvette was a startling revelation to American car buyers. Compact, with only two seats, it looked like a million bucks but didn’t cost it. It only came in one color (white) and one body type (convertible). Chevy showed off some new possibilities with some other body styles, but none were produced. The Nomad shooting brake concept would predict the basic style of 1955-57 Bel-Air based wagons.

C2 Corvette (1963-67)

corvette c2 concepts

The Stingray Racer and Mako Shark clearly signaled the C2’s styling.

The 1959 Stingray Racer  was a very fast, drop dead sexy car that really showed off the future styling and performance of the Corvette several years in advance. Much of the design made it into the C2 Vette, the shortest lived but possibly most beautiful generation. The Mako Shark  concept also showed off some of those lines with some very shark-inspired features.

C3 Corvette (1968-82)

corvette c3 mako shark

The Mako Shark II was all Hot Wheels had to go on at the time. Not bad, eh?

corvette c3 Astrovette

The AstroVette was a concept towards a swoopier C3.

The third gen Corvette was previewed with the Mako Shark II. Aside from the tapered fastback (a holdover from the C2), the design was pretty accurate. Somehow, the Custom Corvette , one of the Original 16 Hot Wheels, looked really, really close to the production car despite General Motors tightly guarding the design. The AstroVette concept was a bit over the top but had those Coke bottle curves.

As the C3 evolved over a very long run, additional concepts showed ways to possibly freshen it up. It was during this era the first potential mid-engine Corvette concepts started to tantalize buyers. Spoiler alert… none of them would come to fruition.

C4 Corvette (1984-96)

corvette c4 aerovette

The AeroVette kind of presaged the C4 if you squint.

Fun fact: There were no 1983 Corvettes sold to the public… the turnover from the C3  to the C4 took longer than expected, so they skipped a year. None of the concepts that preceded it really showed off the clean-edged style of the production car. The AeroVette  from 1973 (and revised years later) kind of hinted at those smooth lines, but that was about it.

C5 Corvette (1997-2004)

corvette c5 concepts

C5 Stingray 3 and resin test shot from Matchbox.

The C5 was teased in several rounded, swoopy concepts and drawings before Chevy finally settled on the new design. The Stingray III concept showed some of those directions in a very 90s shade of purple. This was one case where the restraint of the final design was an improvement. In some interesting diecast history, designers at Matchbox were preparing a new scale model from limited information, when they were accidentally sent files and molds for a larger scale model. From that, they were able to craft the first accurate 1/64 scale C5.

C6 Corvette (2005-2013)

corvette c6

Sorry, folks… no models of C6 concepts because there weren’t any publicly shown cars.

Probably the most subtle redesign in Corvette history, there wasn’t really an actual concept of the C6 to show off. There were renderings in all the automotive publications, but no show car.

C7 Corvette (2014-2019)

The 2009 Stingray concept was designed in time to appear in the latest Transformers movie.

Since the C5 and C6 were so similar in design philosophy, the next generation called for something radical. The 2009 Stingray Concept was shown well ahead of the redesign and boasted some wild new ideas. By the time the C7 hit the streets, it had been toned down considerably. It was still a major departure, however. Still not a mid engine, of course.

C8 Corvette (2020-)

corvette c8 camoflage

There was no publicly shown C8 concept… just this camo’d beauty.

Which brings us to the C8. GM was so tight with the information and licensing that no scale models of the latest generation were available at the time of the reveal. And with no concept cars to work from, there have been a few years of the same designs kicking around with no new diecast. It’s certain we’ll see some new miniatures based on this mid-engine miracle on the store shelves and pegs soon.

Know of other Corvette concepts? We’re especially interested in the ones that were reproduced in miniature. 

Limited Licensed Promo Hot Wheels – Collect Them All If You Can Find Them!

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Anyone interested in collecting Hot Wheels can find a pretty much complete list of every variant of every model ever made, as well as accurate lists of upcoming offerings.

There is an exception to that rule, however, when it come to limited licensed promo Hot Wheels models. A company such as Supreme, makers of skate-related fashion, might offer a vehicle (or a matching set in this case) with their logo plastered all over it.

hot wheels supreme bmwWhat makes these rare for completist collectors is that since they are distributed by the company who licensed them, many of them do not end up on the official Mattel release schedules, so diecast collectors might not know about them until they sell out at stores, online, or via mail-in promotions. Eventually they might show up on the secondary market. In fact, the target market for these items would likely not include traditional diecast collectors, but fans of the brand, so some of these might not ever get resold.

hot wheels twizzlers van

This is actually not a promo car.

Davis Sprague is an avid collector who has added quite a few items to the hobbyDB database. He happens to specialize in really odd variants such as these promo vehicles. “I prefer to focus on collecting variations, international releases, and anything that most collectors wouldn’t typically see every day at their local flea markets,” he said.

On a side note, Hot Wheels occasionally offers cross-branded cars as part of the Mainline series. Since these are widely available in most stores, these aren’t what we’re talking about here. Also, convention and event cars are not quite the same thing. Instead, let’s focus on models that were distributed well outside the usual collector channels. Many of these were released well before the internet became the instant toy news machine it is today, so finding out about them back then was hit-or-miss.

Davis was kind enough to send us a pretty comprehensive list of his favorite promos.

hot wheels promo cars

hot wheels fish o sour

Fat Fendered ’40 (2001 Chuck E Cheese’s Game Prize)
This one was fun to get… it was a prize to be earned at Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant/arcades. There’s no shame in playing kids games to get something this awesome, right?

C. Rex Mobile Nissan Hardbody (1994 Kraft Mail-In Promotional)
Speaking of cheesy mascots, this pickup was only available by mailing in mac and cheese proofs. In some cases, promotions like this may have been mentioned in TV ads, but most likely, you just had to spot it on the shelf at the grocery store.

Fish-O-Saurs VW Drag Bus (1998 Van de Kamp’s mail-in promo)
Do you like fish sticks? Good, because there were several vehicles available in this promotion (and one the year before) that required sending in proof of purchase seals.

hot wheels promo carsFatlace Volkswagen T1 Panel Van (Fatlace Promo)
Speaking of VW Buses, Fatlace, a “dope, ill, lifestyle” brand, made this T1 Panel Bus available only through them. It includes the slogan “Collect Everything” on the door, so what are you waiting for?

Second Wind (1983 Spontex promotional)
If this looks like Speed Racer’s Mach 5 with a sticker on the hood, well, yeah, it kind of is. The Second Wind was intended to be a Mach 5, but Mattel didn’t secure the licensing, so they modified it slightly and renamed it. As for the sticker, Spontex is a French cleaning supply company, and even though it’s just a sticker, it does come in a sealed blister, so finding one intact can be a challenge.

hot wheels promo carsAdidas High Voltage (2005 Adidas Shoes Promotion)
There was a chance collectors may have known about this one, as it came with a pair of kids Adidas Hot Wheels shoes. Which you bought for your kid, not for yourself, right?

Ecolab Ford Bronco 4-Wheeler (1994/1997 Ecolab Promo)
Maybe not the hippest brand on the planet, Ecolab (a clean water and hygiene services company) did this promo that resembles their service trucks. They are very sought after by collectors because of the popular casting and several wheel variations.

Since these don’t show up in more traditional outlets, these can be hard to keep track of, especially if you want to acquire them new. If you know of other recent or current promo vehicles from Hot Wheels, or especially from other diecast brands, let us know in the comments. Also, do you enjoy chasing these models from the source, or would you rather get them afterwards (such as on hobbyDB?)

Model Cars That Look Weird in Certain Colors (But Nope, They Really Exist)

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

Over the past couple years, we’ve brought you lists of model cars that came in colors that made you scratch your head for one reason or another. Some of them, like the Hot Wheels Red Baron are strange in other tones because the color made it into the name of the car. Others were models of cars that only came in a single hue (or a very limited range) and just look bizarre otherwise.

But we found a few that, despite their head-scratching appearance, are in fact based in reality to some degree. Some are based on production vehicles, and some are custom, but they are undeniably real in one way or another. So let’s cut the diecast companies some slack!

harlequin volkswagenHarlequin Volkswagens: Auto World makes a VW Beetle model in various colors…as in a bunch of colors all at once, on different body panels. Strange, right? Well, in the late ‘60s, Volkswagen ran a famous ad showing a Beetle that had every body panel painted a different color. The idea was to demonstrate that since the car’s design hadn’t changed substantially in years, parts could easily be swapped between different years. In 1995, VW painted a multi-colored show car to indicate the various bright colors available on the new model. People started demanding a production version, so for 1996, they offered a Golf painted the same way. (Only 250 or so were ever made.) Since then, some customizers have done the same treatment to Beetles both vintage and new. So even though VW didn’t sell this exact model, it’s rooted in reality.

striped plymouth barracudaRainbow Plymouth Barracuda: AutoWorld makes a pair of odd 1965 Barracudas that are covered in different hued bands from front to back. MOPAR never sold such a car, did they? Nope, they did not… but they did paint one for an advertisement to show off the spectrum of fantastic colors available. It’s unclear if they ever used it as a show car, but some collectors have painted their real Cudas that way as a tribute. So again yeah, that’s a legit scheme.

1982 buick grand nationalSilver and Black Buick Grand National: We’ve mentioned various scale models of the Buick GN that have come in colors other than black, which are, of course, all bogus hues. Johnny Lightning made a version that’s black with silver side panels that looks just as odd. But wait… the original 1982 GN actually came from the factory that way, so yep, another model that’s somehow correct.

marlboro gmc sycloneRed GMC Syclone: Speaking of all-black muscle vehicles from The General, the GMC Syclone pickup was a potent, 4WD compact truck with monster power upgrades. And it only came in black. So what’s up with this smokin’ red version from Johnny Lightning? Well, there was a special Marlboro edition in 1992, the grand prize for ten lucky sweepstakes winners. The JL version has the correct colors and stripes, but lacks the Marlboro badging due to marketing regulations.

super friends batmoblieBlue Batmobile: The Batmobile is black, right? No matter which version we’re talking about? Well, not always. The most notable exception was the car from the Super Friends cartoon, which was a simplified version of the classic TV Batmobile. It was rendered in mostly blue, which was probably easier to color in animation cels. Super Friends was such a huge hit that this Hot Wheels model doesn’t really look that strange unless you think too much.

red lincoln futuraRed Lincoln Futura Concept: Speaking of Batmobiles, everyone knows the Futura Concept was a light, silvery blue hue before George Barris worked his magic on it for the Adam West era car. So what’s with all the different colored diecast models of it? Turns out the Futura was a fully-functioning, running car, and Ford sold it at some point in the late 1950s. By 1959, it had indeed been painted red as shown on the March 30, 1959 issue of LIFE magazine, featuring the ever glamorous Debbie Reynolds. It may have worn other colors as well, but only the Johnny Lightning model gets a pass for sure, even if the interior is the wrong shade.

pink playboy amxPink American Motors AMX: The original AMX, a shortened, two-seat version of the sporty Javelin, came in a lot of brash colors, but pink? Nope, not from the factory, anyway. However, starting in 1964 Hugh Hefner began presenting the Playmate Of The Year with a pink car every year. In 1968, he had an AMX painted that way as a gift to PMOY Angela Dorian. (It was easily one of the best year-appropriate cars given as the annual prize). Hot Wheels has offered brightly colored pink versions of the AMX over the years, but Johnny Lightning and Ertl have made models in the correct Playboy shade. Although JL has created other Playboy related diecast over the years, their AMX was offered without the magazine branding, but it’s still a wink and a nod to those in the know. (By the way, Ertl offers a pink 1967 Mustang, but that was not actually the prize that year… it was a Plymouth Barracuda.)

dodge la femmePink Dodge Custom Royal Lancer: Speaking of pink cars, here’s one that inexplicably doesn’t seem to exist in small scale…1950s Detroit brought out some wild colors, but Dodge really did a number with the pink and white La Femme in 1955. Marketed as a ladies car, it was kind of a flop, and you could argue it plays to certain stereotypes as the original “chick car.” On the other hand, at least it showed that a car company was considering that women were drivers and car buyers, too. Besides the paint, it was a mostly standard 1955 Royal Lancer… except for special fabric, matching purse, lipstick holder and cigarette case(!). 1956 saw another version, this time in two shades of orchid paint. Several companies, such as M2 Machines, make castings of the ’55, but so far, they haven’t done it in this color scheme. C’mon, there are women who collect diecast too, right?

Can you think of any other diecast cars that seem weirdly colored but are in fact, correct? Hit us up in the comments (and if you can, add a photo)!

Sinclair’s Auto Miniatures – a trip to the beginning of diecast collecting

Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Diecast was a special area of interest ever since he helped his brother write a book about Siku Model Cars in 1987.

When a former team member called and asked for some help to sell her late father’s collection we were only too happy to help (I wrote an earlier article on how to best sell a collection).  When she then arrived with 20 boxes of amazing models I was glad we offered help, her father Jim just had an amazing collection,  see for yourself here.  But what really excited me was all the paperwork that she had.  And the best were catalogs and other items from Sinclair’s Auto Miniatures!  Since moving to the US and when meeting older diecast collectors I heard so much about Dave Sinclair and his store in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Way before the internet, his catalog was sent to 30,000 collectors around the world and he had the most amazing selection!

Check out for example his 1971 catalog  –

I was looking for the dress in the catalog as it is going very well with that Pocher Fiat

 

I had (and loved that) that Märklin Porsche 907

 

… and wanted to some Mercury Models with all those opening features!

 

Friends and I spend hours driving that Cadillac DeVille from Schuco back and forth (damn, why did I not keep it in its box)

 

You had to fill this out by hand to order! But at least you got a FREE decal with an order over $10…  Also, do not forget to lick the gummed flap to seal the form.  When did you do that the last time?

 

And then just fold the form in and send it in.

 

Dugu & Ziss!

How much I wish to go back in time to join Jim for a visit to Dave’s store in Erie.  And I wouldn’t even cost that much money!  Check out this letter from Sinclair’s with the then new Corgi Toys James Bond’s Aston Martin for $3.50!